Kids can be averse to healthy eating.
We all knew someone at school who refused to eat anything other than crustless sandwiches and Pomme Bears.
But there might be a very simple solution to getting children to eat their vegetables from an early age: breastfeed them.
Women who eat vegetables while breastfeeding expose their babies to the flavour of vegetables through the milk.
New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia claims that babies who are exposed to vegetables while being breastfed are more likely to want to eat vegetables when they’re able to process solid foods.
Scientists got 97 women to drink beetroot, celery or carrot juice and then tracked the eating habits of their children as they grew up.
The women were split into five groups: three groups drank half a cup of juice for a month before nursing but eat group started at a different time (when their babies were two weeks, six weeks and 10 weeks old).
THe fourth group of mothers drank juice for three months, beginning when their babies were two weeks old. The fifth group drank no juice at all.
The fifth group drank no juice at all.
When the babies started eating solid foods at eight months, they were offered plain cereal, carrot flavoured cereal or broccoli flavoured cereal.
Researchers found that the babies whose mothers had been drinking juice preferred the carrot flavoured cereal over the as yet unfamiliar broccoli flavour, or the plain one.
Those babies whose mums had been drinking juice from the earliest opportunity ate more of the carrot-flavoured cereal and faster.
For many children, the taste of vegetables can be overpowering once they start eating proper grub. If they’ve been breastfed, however, their taste buds have already been conditioned to handle the flavours.
‘Every baby’s sensory experience is unique, but the flavour of their first food, beginning in utero, is dependent on what mum is eating,’ says lead study author Julie Mennella.
‘The way I see it is: Mother’s milk is the ultimate in precision medicine.’
So, how exactly does it work?
When a pregnant woman eats vegetables, they flavour her amniotic fluid and then her breast milk.
So if you want your kids to eat well, you might want to lead by example – before they’re even born.